Saturday, December 23, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Alvaro Rodriguez

Book Your Stocking: December 23

Here we are, readers, in the last weekend of frantic window-shopping or the cool calm before the blizzard of family, friends, and memories that uplift and drown us. Perhaps you will find some time to order a book off today's list of books, or find one in the bookstore or library today, and hopefully the silence will find you in the low light of your reading lamp.

Please welcome today's reader, Alvaro Rodriguez.



American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Buddha - Osamu Tezuka
Chasing Comets - Ernest Dempsey
El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Maus - Art Spiegelm
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Persepolis - Marjane Sartrapi
Rust - Jonathan Waldman
The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
The Martian - Andy Weir
Watchmen - Alan Moore
Y: The Last Man - Brian Vaughan

About today's reader:

Alvaro Rodriguez,
photograph used with permission
Alvaro Rodriguez is from Bogota, Colombia and uses writing to communicate with the world through speeches, poems, and essays. One of his great passions is life because he has walked this path by sharing it with amazing people. People that taught him to see the world in a very different way.

Alvaro is an eager reader of science, poetry, fiction, and politics. Additionally, he has a great appreciation for art, languages, music and semantics. He enjoys taking part in poetry readings at Barrel and Keg in Salem, Oregon, and his poem "My Normal Week" is forthcoming in Willawaw Journal.

He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Albany, Oregon where he specializes in the study of Corrosion.


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Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Rajia Hassib

Book Your Stocking: December 22

We are fast approaching the last weekend of bookstores crammed with people, cardboard displays, calendars, and every sort of bookmark and 3-dimensional greeting card one might never imagine. And so it is likely best for everyone for you to go in with a carefully curated list. Here are several more titles to mark down, for you or your book-lover.

Please welcome Rajia Hassib to today's Book Your Stocking.


Giving List

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid: Short-listed for the Booker Prize, Exit West imagines a world where mysterious black doors appear in the heart of violence-ridden regions, offering those caught amid such violence a chance to step into the door and step out in another part of the world, far away from the unrest of their native lands but, as it turns out, into a different kind of turmoil. Hamid is a master of packing a lot of emotional punch into relatively short novels, and this one, his latest, offers a timely insight into the life of refugees and the effects of the refugee crisis on the global community.

The Accomplished Guest by Ann Beattie: Ann Beattie’s mastery of the short story continues in her latest collection, released earlier this year. I love Beattie’s work for many reasons, including her uncanny insights into people’s motives, her unpredictable, unique characters, and her ability to use dialogue seamlessly to propel the plot. This collection is especially fit for a Christmas gift because the stories all revolve around some sort of travel, visit, or the attendance of various social events, including a couple of Christmas parties.

Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern. The only non-fiction book on my list is not exactly suited to a cheerful holiday spirit, I know, but I consider it an essential, eye-opening read for anyone trying to understand the horror of terrorism that has been looming over the world for decades. Stern’s book was published in 20013, but it still offers fascinating insight into the lives and motives of various religious terrorist organizations and individuals, all based on this terrorism expert’s years of research. 

Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar: Beautifully lyrical, Matar’s novel follows the life of Nuri, the young son of Kamal Pasha el-Alfi, an exiled man who disappears without a trace, apparently because of his ties to his country’s former regime. Matar presents Nuri both as a young boy and, eventually, an adult still trying to deal with his father’s disappearance, and his portrait of the various characters is painstakingly intimate. A novel for those seeking lyrical language and an immersion in the lives and thoughts of a complex character.

The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai: A literary page-turner, Makkai’s novel unravels the secrets of a house that once served as an arts colony. Populated with academics and artists, the novel would appeal to voracious readers based on its characters alone, but the mystery and the brilliant structure add to the appeal: the novel is told in sections that go backwards in time, starting in 1999 and ending in 1900. An enjoyable and satisfying read. 

Live from Cairo by Ian Bassingthwaighte: Set in Cairo in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and told from the perspectives of American and Arab-American refugee resettlement officers as well as Iraqi refugees, Live from Cairo paints a vibrant picture of a city in turmoil and is enriched by the various perspectives it offers on the political climate that dominates the narrative. Another timely novel populated with complex, memorable, and utterly humane characters.


Rajia Hassib,
photograph used with permission
About today's reader:

Rajia Hassib was born and raised in Egypt and moved to the United States when she was twenty-three. She holds an MA in creative writing from Marshall University, and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker online, The New York Times Book Review, Upstreet, Steam Ticket, and Border Crossing magazines. Her debut novel, In the Language of Miracles, was published by Viking (Penguin) in 2015, and her second novel, Hearts as Light as Feathers, is forthcoming, also from Viking. She lives in West Virginia.


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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Abby Freeland

Book Your Stocking: December 21

Today is our twenty-first edition of Book Your Stocking, a new reading series in which every day of December a reader shares his/her/their reading wish-lists or give-lists. 

Please welcome today's reader, Abby Freeland.


Giving List



Abby Freeland,
photograph used with permission
About today's reader:

Abby Freeland is the sales and marketing director at West Virginia University Press and the editor of Vandalia Press, its fiction imprint.


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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Ann Tweedy

Book Your Stocking: December 20

Welcome back! Every day of December readers are sharing their holiday reading lists, to-give or to-receive. 

Please welcome Ann Tweedy to today's Book Your Stocking.




About today's reader:

Ann Tweedy is a poet, legal scholar, and essayist. Her first full-length book of poetry, The Body’s Alphabet won a Bisexual Book Award in Poetry in 2017, and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Golden Crown Literary Society Award. She's the author of two chapbooks: Beleaguered Oases and White Out. She is also a law professor and a practicing attorney who represents Indian Tribes. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Ann Tweedy
photograph used with permission


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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Michael Wolfe

Book Your Stocking: December 19

Welcome back to a new edition of Book Your Stocking, a month-long reading series celebrating books. Every day a new reader shares his/her/their holiday to-give/to-read lists. 

Please welcome today's reader, Michael Wolfe.



(Both are strange, unexpected, dreamy) 


(Urgent, visceral)




Michael Wolfe,
photograph by Lisa Robinson
(used with permission)
About today's reader: 

Michael Wolfe’s work has appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, Phoebe, Bloom, American Book Review, Cool Thing, and elsewhere. He is a founding editor of Front Porch ( and has taught creative writing at Southwestern University and the University of New Mexico. He lives in Los Angeles and online at


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Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Michael Martone

Book Your Stocking: December 18

Welcome to a new week in December, and with that, a new featured reader who, like many instructors the world over, is spending his holidays reading in preparation for the next gatherings of students.

Please welcome Michael Martone.


Reading List 

These are the books I am reading over break for my class on the Prose Poem and Short Short Prose in the New Year.

Holy Land, Waldie

Bluets, Nelson

The Jokes, Thomas

Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Rankin

Heating and Cooling, Fennelly

Stories in the Worst Way, Lutz

Tsim Tsum, Orah

Short Talks, Carson

Break It Down, Davis

The World Doesn't End, Simic

The Man Who Stands in Line, Halpern

Short, edited by Zeigler


Michael Martone
About today's reader: Michael Martone grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is the writer and editor of many books, from fiction to non-fiction, most recently Four for a Quarter, Michael Martone, and Double-Wide. He's a professor of Creative Writing at University of Alabama.


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